O'Leary: Co-pilots are unnecessary
Published 08/09/2010 | 09:33
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has turned his focus on the cockpit as part of his ongoing drive to save costs at the budget airline.
He said he intends to write to aviation authorities for permission to use only one pilot per flight because he believes co-pilots are unnecessary in modern jets, the Financial Times reported.
Mr O'Leary, who has previously considered standing tickets on flights as well as charging for the use of toilets, conceded that two pilots would be needed on long-haul flights, but said on shorter trips flight attendants could do the job.
In an interview, he said the second pilot was only there to "make sure the first fella doesn't fall asleep and knock over one of the computer controls".
He backed up his comments by adding that trains were allowed to have one driver even though this could conceivably cause a crash in the event of a heart attack.
But he added: "It could save the entire industry a fortune. In 25 years with over about 10 million flights, we've had one pilot who suffered a heart attack in flight and he landed the plane."
But industry experts have hit out at the proposal as "unwise".
A spokesman for the British Airline Pilots' Association said: "This is just a bid for publicity. His suggestion is unsafe and his passengers would be horrified."
Mr O'Leary frequently courts controversy with his attempts to cut costs at Ryanair, which charges for baggage check-in.
This year, he raised the baggage charge for the summer holiday season and, following the volcano ash cloud crisis, initially capped the level of compensation to passengers.